December 23rd, 2008

Own Worst Enemies

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

When I got married, our first house was at the end of a cul-de-sac which was on a hill. It was a brand new estate & all the residents moved in at the same time. We all had drives. In order to get off the drive you had to go up a steepish slope onto the cul-de-sac & then up the hill until it straightened out & then went downhill towards the main road.

During our first winter, someone realised that if it snowed or froze, we might have problems getting to work. We therefore all chipped in & ordered a a load of rock salt. It worked out that each household got a couple of bags each.

Sure enough, one day hence I woke up and couldn’t get off the drive for the snow & ice. Ah-ha I thought, I’ll get the rock salt out.

I got both bags and started spreading the salt over the drive, I then spread some over the neighbour’s drive and did the first 15 or so yards of the cul-de-sac. In other words, I shared it about so everyone would benefit from my two bags.

I went inside for a cup of tea to give the salt time to act & happened to look out the window just as another neighbour was distributing his rock salt. I was pretty gobsmacked to watch him cut off the corner of a bag and then proceed to pour the whole bag from his front offside wheel, up his drive & onto the cul-de-sac. He then did the same with his other bag only covering the track his nearside wheel would make. It was like two trails of gunpowder leading from his front wheels right up to the point where my salt was melting away the main roadway for him.

Which is aprospos of nothing really but I was reminded of it when reading the following story in the Telegraph this week.

Seventeen-year-old Phillip Barnes thought he’d assist some elderly residents in Kendal when they couldn’t leave their homes as the street hadn’t been gritted. He drove around looking for some and went to the local council depot. He says he was told that if he could find some grit in any of the yellow roadside bins he could help himself.

He found such a bin at a railway station, took a bucketful of grit and returned to the road where he gritted the front of some old folks’ homes.

Two days later British Transport Police arrived at his door. He was told they had the incident on CCTV, questioned him for two hours and advised he may be prosecuted or cautioned for theft. A British Transport Police spokesman said, “We have investigated this but it appears the 17-year-old and his friends who took the grit did not realise they were committing an offence. We will not be taking this any further”. Which is really the reason for the title of this post – Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.

They could have simply said, we looked in to this matter and found no offence had been committed, but rather they chose to put the guilt on the teenager and made it look like they were doing him a favour by letting him off.

Now I may have been at training school about 30 years ago, but I can still remember the salient points of the Theft Act, specifically the bit that says “A person is guilty of theft, if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it“. I would question that someone believed they were being dishonest when they had made enquiries and believed they had permission to take the grit. Further, the Theft Act says something which is pretty relevant to this scenario -

1. A person’s appropriation of property belonging to another is not to be regarded as dishonest:

(a) if he appropriates the property in the belief that he has in law the right to deprive the other of it, on behalf of himself or of a third person; or

(b) if he appropriates the property in the belief that he would have the other’s consent if the other knew of the appropriation and the circumstances of it;

Sometimes it might pay just to be up-front & stop trying to spin things in our favour.

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  1. Notacoppernomore says:

    Well, BTP – a none police force with little to do. At least they did’nt do what the MOD police, ports police or parks police would have done, and passed this “serious crime” up to the CID for investigation. Poor lad would have had to have waited even longer whilst a warrant was executed to search his pencil case for more grit, before the CPS do with these bumpkins as they always do, and reject the file for want of due process and tangible evidence. Only way to tell a police recruit from a chav these days is by the length of time each wears a tracksuit.

    December 24th, 2008 at 04:19

  2. Joe says:

    I suspect this reflects the change in police attitudes over the years driven largely by the “target” culture and the swamping of the ranks of trhe SMT by people who sound as if they’ve been on the same media presentation course as the labour politicians!

    Happy Christmas Mr Weeks and thank you for the enjoyment your blog has provided over the last year. I do hope you’ll continue to post after you pass the “200″ mark.


    December 24th, 2008 at 13:14

  3. Litew8 says:

    Happy Christmas Mr 200 Sir!

    Hope you keep on posting like Joe (above) says…



    December 24th, 2008 at 16:00

  4. Tony F says:

    Have Good time!

    Bizarrely, Some years ago, the owner of the ‘Cat and Fiddle’ up in the Pennines was clearing the car park of snow, when a vehicle parked in an area he had not yet cleared. Someone got out of the car, and promptly slipped and fell, causing themselves an injury. Guess who was successfully sued?

    Still and all, thanks to global warming, throw another prawn on the barbie…

    December 24th, 2008 at 18:40

  5. MarkUK says:

    Hi 200,

    Your attitude is what I expect from our constables. BTP’s is not. “Own Worst Enemies” is understating the matter by 80%.

    I would always wish to support the police, but sometimes…

    Anyroad, enough serious stuff.

    God Geol (or Merry Christmas if that’s what you prefer).

    December 24th, 2008 at 21:34

  6. Joe says:

    The new police blog “The Sarge’s Desktop” had an item yesterday which I think provides the answer to the why we have the BTP proble.

    December 25th, 2008 at 12:46

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